Sergio Garval’s “Apocalypse”

By Margaret Failoni

A gifted young artist from Guadalajara has managed the impossible: to make the apocalypse attractive. Sergio Garval is an incredibly gifted painter and sculptor, and is that rare case in which both genres are at the forefront of his creativity. His most recent exhibition in the Casa Moneda-Museo del Arzobispado in Mexico City consisted of the entire ground floor of the museum with monumental paintings, oil on canvas of apocalyptic scenes of urban devastation. People were clinging onto rafts, mattresses, cars, anything that could float. Cities were burning, children and pet dogs clung to each other, mounds of toys floated like garbage and it seemed that the catalyst was water, overflowing rivers, tsunamis, devastating floods — but without an ark to save them. The four horsemen of the apocalypse had come and gone and left a trail of total devastation behind them. The sculptures represented large nudes sculpted in wood with assembled suitcases by their side, escaping, going somewhere, but where? Or huge cardinals, some in vestments, some nude with ravaged expressions on their face. The irony of all this is that although the drama recounted in these paintings does not escape you, the sheer beauty of the execution, the colors, the brush strokes capture the viewer and it is difficult to remove one’s gaze.

Sculpture and painting by Sergio Garval
Fri, Apr 4, 5-8pm
Galería Santiago Corral
Fábrica La Aurora

The artist is concerned with the inequalities in present day society, man’s destruction of his environment, the materialism, the violence. Do we need another universal flood to clean it all up, and if so, where is the ark; who will be saved? The large cardinal paintings and sculptures remind the viewer of the nursery stories of the king and his robes. Here we see hypocrisy and avarice on the faces and figures of an over-indulged ecclesiastic hierarchy.

The exhibition in the Santiago Corral gallery consists of smaller works culled from the museum show; beautifully executed figures on a mound of discarded toys, people and floating debris rescued from raging waters, a few exquisitely executed bronze sculptures from the cardinal series, a drawing or two, a feast for the eyes. If Sergio Garval can produce such powerful work in the first years of his incredible career, we can hardly wait or imagine what he will be producing in the years to come.

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